November 13, 2020

Parenting Plans at the Holidays

Whether you are in the process of developing a parenting plan for the holidays as part of your Texas divorce, or you are a recently divorced parent, you might have concerns about parenting plans at the holidays. How do you develop a schedule that allows both you and the other parent to spend time with your children during the holiday season? And what should you do if an unexpected issue arises and you cannot stick to the schedule that has been set in your parenting plan? Or, for instance, what can you do if the other parent is not adhering to the terms of the parenting plan at the holidays? We want to discuss some key issues concerning child custody—also known as conservatorship and possession under Texas law—around the holidays, and what parents should consider when developing or seeking to modify parenting plans.

Developing a Holiday Parenting Plan: What to Consider

If you are working on developing a parent plan for the holidays as part of your divorce case in Texas, there are a variety of issues and options you should consider:

  • If possible, work with the other parent to reach an agreement about how you will co-parent during the holidays in terms of scheduling. For instance, will you split time evenly during your child’s winter break, or will you co-parent with each parent having the child for the entire winter break every other year? Or, for example, will you alternate holidays, with one parent taking Christmas Eve and the other taking Christmas Day, and then alternating each year? No matter what you decide is best for your family, if you can develop a schedule that focuses on the child’s best interests during the holidays, you can have a co-parenting plan that works.
  • Keep in mind that you will need to remain flexible if possible. According to an article in Psychology Today, being flexible with scheduling is one of the best “gifts” you can give yourself during the holiday season. Even if you make plans to travel with your child, or to alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you should recognize that unexpected events will arise and it can be helpful to plan on being flexible. If your child gets sick, or if the other parent has a legitimate issue that arises during the holidays, avoiding a contentious dispute can help to make the holiday a happy one for your child.
  • If your child is old enough to play a role in decision-making, it is important to make your child know that their opinion does matter. Accordingly, if you are able to work out a holiday parenting schedule that is in your child’s best interest—while taking into account your child’s preference—you can help your child to accept the new family situation during the holidays and to feel as though their opinion and preference are important to you and your ex.

When You Need to Modify a Holiday Parenting Plan

What happens if the other parent is simply refusing to abide by the current terms of the parenting plan for the holidays, or a substantial change in circumstances has occurred? In such situations, you can request that the court step in.

Either parent can file a petition to seek a modification of child custody (i.e., conservatorship or possession) in Texas. Under Texas modification law, the court can grant a temporary order while the petition for modification is pending in the court. If you are seeking a modification related to scheduling in time for the holiday season, a temporary order can help. In order for the court to grant a modification, the party seeking the modification must be able to show, according to Texas law, that “the circumstances of the child, a conservator, or other party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed” since the initial order was entered.


Seek Advice from a Texas Family Lawyer

Parenting during the holiday season can be complicated, but having an experienced Fort Worth family lawyer on your side can allow you to develop a parenting plan that meets the needs of your family. Contact The Fetty Firm, PC today for assistance with your case.